4.048 The Wife’s Mother-in-Law’s Birthday Hansang

Cycle 4 – Item 48

22 (Fri) February 2013

The Wife’s Mother-in-Law’s Birthday Hansang


by W and me

at home

-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with W and DJ, Mom + Dad

In celebration of her mother-in-law’s birthday today, W put together a dinner feast, with some assistance from me.  It was her first time in 7 years of marriage – her first time in 38 years of life, actually – that she attempted anything of the sort.  Previously, the closest that she’d come was preparing an appetizer at our housewarming party for my relatives not long after the wedding.  As far as I’m aware, she’s never cooked a single dish for her own parents, ever.

I didn’t think it possible to set fire to something (e.g., a carton of eggs) in a microwave oven – come to think of it, I don’t know why she’s microwaving a carton of eggs.

The meal was quite impressive.  All the dishes laid out on the table at once, rather than brought out as a series of courses, such a spread is referred to in Korean as “hansang (한상)” = “one (han) table (sang).”  Korean meals are hansang as a general rule (see for example 2.289 Hanjeongsik), from daily meals at home for the sake of convenience to royal banquets for the sake of spectacle.

Galbi Jjim: the piece de resistance.
To make the meal complete, steamed rice was served with miyeok guk, which is traditionally prepared for breakfast, but we live too far from my parents to make that feasible.

Some hits, some misses, but overall a success.  My father said that he expected an even grander spread on his birthday in July.  My mother was very pleased, I think.  Happy birthday!

Home-Made Carrot Cake: not Korean by any stretch, but neither is the concept of a birthday cake to begin with.


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